Why I bought an Android tablet instead of an iPad

Let me start off by saying I love Apple Macs – I’m a designer and have used one virtually every day of my professional life for well over a decade.

I use an iMac day in, day out and the premium I paid has been more than vindicated in terms of reliability and general retention of my already tenuous grasp of sanity.

As a walking advert for modern open office working, logic would normally dictate that I also have an iPhone and iPad so I can grow and maintain my empire, Übermensch like, where ever I am.

So when I got a smart phone why didn’t I go with Apple?

Just today a colleague questioned my logic of not going all-apple saying something along the lines of “but if you had an iPhone and iPad then all your devices could talk to each other”.

That’s a good point, but experience has taught me that I don’t want hardware to be the basis of any system I have – hardware changes every 5 minutes after all.

What doesn’t change so much is the actual information I want to keep track of (appointments, contact details etc.) – therefore I want any system I have to be software or, more specifically, information based.

By way of an example, one big reason that I haven’t gone all-apple goes back to 2008 when I started experimenting with iCal, Apple’s calendar system.

I really didn’t get on with it when trying to sync it with a palm handheld doohikee.

Since the advent of cloud based systems this is completely irrelevant, but in the intervening time I grew to quite like Google Calendar. Along with the other Google tools, it doesn’t give a toss what hardware you’re using (as long as you have a browser), and has since become integral to the way I work.

Hence, when I finally got round to upgrading to a smart phone I went for an HTC Android phone – which integrated with my Google account virtually automatically and only cost just over half the amount of an iPhone monthly contract.

I’m sure it’s occasional shortcomings would have iPhone users frothing at the mouth, but I found that it was perfectly serviceable for the demands I made of it.

I’ll probably even keep hold of it after the 2 year contract is up and get the phone company to knock a bit of my monthly bill!

A brief dalliance with a net-book

When I came to think about getting something to help me knock out the odd post in the evening or when out and about, I initially started looking at netbooks (a laptop with a 10inch screen, for those of you with lives here’s the one I had my eye on the Samsung NC110) at around £250 – but I really, really hate windows! (and I’m too much of a coward to try Linux).

Then fate intervened in the decision making process by killing my wife’s laptop.

This rendered all my machinations null and void as Farmville waits for no girl – in the interests of avoiding familial discord I think you can guess where the money I had ear marked for a netbook went!

As it turns out this was the best thing that could have happened because it got me thinking about whether a low cost android tablet could handle the modest demands I had, which were essentially:

  • Creating and editing text and spreadsheet documents
  • Simple website administration (adding or editing posts)
  • Internet browsing and research
  • Reading blogs

Why didn’t I go for an iPad?

I should say at this point that I have never even used an iPad (except a very quick go in a shop) and have only handled an iPhone very occasionally when someone mistakes me for someone who can fix it (I can’t).

So I am not comparing products or saying one is better than the other!

What I would say is that whilst I would never dream of doing involved design work on anything other than a Mac (or, more to the point, OSX – Apple’s operating system) I’m not a blind Apple devotee!

For instance – Apple, in my opinion, have never made a mouse that you could actually use!
I always end up replacing the gorgeous looking Apple mouse that came with the computer with something uglier and more practical.

But which Android tablet?

android tablet

The Nexus 7 Android Tablet

Suffice to say, I wasn’t just going to nip down to Maplin (or Tandy, or Radio Shack, or whatever decade we’re in) and buy the first Android tablet I saw.

During my diligent-to-the-point-of-neurotic research to find this miracle device, I started reading reviews for Google’s Nexus 7 tablet – and it all sounded super-duper!

Tech radar is one of the first places I look for reviews on any technology product I’m researching.
They seem to have reviewed pretty much every technological thing-a-me out there. They are thorough and haven’t failed me yet.

But it was this review that clinched the deal for me (as well as being impressed with the reviewer’s apparent ability to circular breathe!)

Why the Nexus 7 is bargain

Tech radar’s review mentions that the Nexus 7 is being sold pretty much at cost price – so you’re actually getting about twice your money’s worth of technology (which is likely to become a more detailed common practice if you read this article).

This claim seemed to be backed up by the circular breathing guy’s assertion that it’s as good, if not better than, tablets in a higher price bracket.

The other bonus is that Google give you £15 to spend on apps in their online store – so I searched out this post on the most important ones to get.

Apparently these seemingly insane commercial decisions were made not so much to compete with the ipad (how do you compete with that?) but in attempt to kill Amazon’s far less powerful Kindle Fire – so it seemed like the optimum time to buy.

In conclusion

So having used Nexus 7 for a few weeks would I recommend it to anyone?

I already have – but it tends to get met with the same mixture of politeness tinged with sympathy reserved for the truly self deluded.

They just can’t believe I chose not to get an iPad.

So was it a bad decision?

Not at all – it’s a high quality, practical, reasonably priced bit of kit which is coming in really handy (for writing posts like this for instance).

Are there any downsides?

If I’m being picky it can take a little too long to connect to my wireless network, and also you can’t plug a sim into it – so no mobile Internet, only wireless.

So definitely consider one as an alternative to an iPad- especially if you just intend to let your 5 year old roll around on the floor with it – You could put the £350 you save towards their therapy costs later on for feelings of alienation and paranoia at the hands of cash strapped iPad owners!

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